Texas Tech football’s most recognizable and storied pregame tradition is undoubtedly the Masked Rider’s entrance onto the field with the team just before kickoff.
The tradition began nearly 60 years ago at the 1954 Gator Bowl when Joe Kirk Fulton led the team onto the field astride his horse, ‘Blackie.’ Today, it’s far and away one of the best team entrances in organized sports. However, at this year’s bowl appearance in San Diego on Dec. 30, the Masked Rider will not be a part of the pregame pageantry because the venue will not allow it.
@wr_jones not going because not allowed to ride on their surface. No idea past that.
— Chris Level (@ChrisLevel) December 20, 2013
Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers and site of the Holiday Bowl, is a grass field arena. Apparently, very delicate grass at that. The Lubbock Avalanche Journal ran a story earlier this week with comments from a Holiday Bowl spokesperson.
The horse is a concern for the stadium’s grounds crew, he said. The Holiday Bowl will be the fourth game played at the stadium in eight days. The crew was concerned the horse’s galloping, compounded by normal wear and tear from the players, could cause damage to the natural turf.
Apparently the City of San Diego has also banned the horse from participating in Big Bay Balloon Parade, which takes place prior to the game, because of “insurance concerns.”
When the team had to make do without their horse and rider for several games last season, the alternative was Raider Red leading the team out the tunnel on a Harley. I would guess that’s not a possibility either.
What say you? How do you feel about the Holiday Bowl saying “no dice” to the Masked Rider? Is there a good alternative? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.